Business

Payments underdog Balanced challenges PayPal and Stripe with new pricing model (and momentum)

Image Credit: Balanced

Balanced founder Jareau Wade wants people to know that Braintree and Stripe aren’t “the only payment games in town.”

This underdog of the online payments world grew by 757 percent in transaction volume and 784 percent in number of customers over the past year, according to Wade, and is now processing over $370 million a year.

Balanced is a provider of backend payments solutions that’s specifically geared toward online marketplaces and networks. It now works with more than 440 companies and crowdfunding platforms. Wade said many customers have switched from Stripe and Braintree (now owned by PayPal). Notable Balanced customers include Fancy, Redditgifts, Wefunder, and Crowdtilt.

“By focusing on networks and marketplaces, we are targeting one of the hardest types of e-commerce,” Wade told VentureBeat.  “There are two sides you have to worry about, and this is important because the value of a marketplace is in a unique and broad inventory. We think our growth is representative of the fact there is room for multiple players in the payments space, especially payments companies servicing marketplaces, which are generally creating new commerce.”

Balanced also announced a new, open pricing model today, where as volume goes up, transaction rates go down. It now has five transaction tiers. Marketplaces processing less than $100,000 a month will pay a rate of 2.9 percent plus 30 cents per transaction, while those processing over $5 million will pay 1.9 percent, plus 30 cents (with three tiers in between).

“We tend not to negotiate pricing with our customers very often, but we do offer price discounts such as one for growing transaction volume,” Wade said. “For months, we’ve offered standard discounts to those who asked for it, but as an open company, we think that’s unfair and harmful to our customers. A marketplace shouldn’t have to ask for special pricing. They should be rewarded for their growth and there should be a clear road to those savings.”

Wade said that PayPal is the only other payments company he knows of that publishes standard volume discount pricing tiers. PayPal’s standard tiers are lower, however– only going up to $100,000 before custom pricing comes in — because it mainly works with single merchants, rather than marketplaces. Stripe takes 2.9 percent, plus 30 cents per successful charge, or less based on volume.

Wade also said that in the newt few weeks, Balanced will release features that put it directly in competition with Stripe and Braintree, “but with our own open, marketplace-focused flair.”

Balanced first started out as PoundPay and participated in Y Combinator’s winter 2011 class. It launched as Balanced in November 2012 and raised funding from Andreessen Horowitz last April.

Its API makes it easy to set up a double-sided transaction model. The technology processes payments, holds those funds in escrow, and initiates payouts through one integration. Everything happens behind the scenes, so consumers do not need to have a Balanced account, and the company takes care of accounting and operations, fraud, compliance, and international currency conversion.

PayPal is far and away the dominant player in payments, and it made its position even stronger by its recent $800 million acquisition of backend payments provider Braintree. PayPal acquired Braintree to become more appealing and friendly to developers — a growing need as rival Stripe, which takes a “code-based” approach to credit card processing, continues on its strong trajectory.

Balanced is a newer, younger entrant into this arena, and aims to distinguish itself from competitors with a tight focus on two-sided marketplaces, as well as this new dynamic pricing model.

More information:

PayPal is the faster, safer way to pay and get paid online. The service allows members to send money without sharing financial information, with the flexibility to pay using their account balances, bank accounts, credit cards or promot... read more »

Stripe is a simple, developer-friendly way to accept payments online. We believe that enabling transactions on the web is a problem rooted in code, not finance, and we want to help put more websites in business.... read more »

We're obsessed with all forms of infrastructure, including communications, transportation, energy, waste management, and payments. Robust infrastructure creates a happier, more productive, and more prosperous society. You know exactly ... read more »

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